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Chernobyl's Harrowing Helicopter Scene Was Based On Real Events

Chernobyl's Harrowing Helicopter Scene Was Based On Real Events

In 1986 Ukranian director Vladimir Shevchenko gained access to the charred remains of the Chernobyl power plant and filmed efforts to seal up the gaping wound caused by the meltdown.

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He used the footage to make a documentary about the disaster, Chernobyl: Chronicle of Difficult Weeks. The radiation the director suffered, as a result, would go on to kill him just a year later.

The film itself has since been branded the 'most dangerous roll of film ever', and the camera used to shoot it had to be encased in a lead-lined casket and was stored at a facility close to Kyiv.

When looking back at the footage himself, Shevchenko noticed flashes and spots on the rolls, which at the time he believed was a fault with the stock, but later learnt was actually footage of radiation degrading the film.

At the time, he said: "Radiation is a fatal invisible foe. It has no odour, nor colour. But it has a voice. We thought this film was defective. But we were mistaken. This is how radiation looks.

"Our camera was loaded with black-and-white film. This is why the events of the first weeks will be black and white, the colours of disaster."

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HBO's re-imagining is almost a mirror image of the MI-8 crash. Credit: HBO
HBO's re-imagining is almost a mirror image of the MI-8 crash. Credit: HBO

Now, 33 years on, HBO has released its bleak re-imagining of the disaster, which has been lauded for its hyper-realism and attention to detail.

And while not every bit of it is true to life, one of the series' most harrowing scenes is almost a mirror image of footage shot by Shevchenko at the time.

Episode two centres on the aftermath of the meltdown, and the attempts of helicopter crews to smother the blackened shell of reactor unit four with sand. But as one chopper gets too close, its propellers clip a crane and the helicopter plummets to the ground.

Valery Legasov ((played by Jared Harris) and Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgård) watch on, motionless, as the horror unfolds.

This tragic moment is based on the crash of the MI-8 Hip helicopter, which fell from the sky after colliding with a crane and fell into the smouldering remains of the reactor, killing all those on board.

The final episode of Chernobyl airs on Sky Atlantic at 9pm tonight and follows the trial of of six former technicians which took place in July 1987.

According to reports, the court case was aimed at finding the cause of and the person responsible for the disaster which killed more than 30 people in the first instance, and many more in the years that followed.

It will flit between the trial and the events leading up to the meltdown.

Featured Image Credit: HBO

Topics: TV and Film, Chernobyl

Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at [email protected]

 

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